The word ‘maroon’ means fugitive or run-away and in Jamaica these group of people are descended from runaway slaves who established free communities in the mountainous interior of Jamaica during slavery. Jamaica was captured by the British in 1655. It was captured from the Spanish colonists who fled the island leaving behind a large number of African slaves. The slaves did not allow themselves to be re-enslaved by the British so they escaped into the hilly mountainous regions of the island living amongst the Tainos who were the original natives of the island.
Among them was Nanny of the Maroons………….. sidebar….. I want to share this with you the readers before I continue on the subject of the Maroons. A couple of years ago I went to Jamaica in Portland to a place where the river and the sea meet to honor the river (OSUN and YEMOJA), with gifts that I had brought – I had brought several people along with me. While we were there and I was praying I saw a woman sitting across the river on a rock on the side, (dusk was setting in at this time), she was dark in complexion, the dress that she wore was almost cream-colored, she had a simple head tie on her head, she had a small upper body with big sized hips and buttocks. She was turned to the side and so I could not see her face clearly. My spirit reached out to her to inquire who she was. She told me that she was happy I was there appeasing the river and the sea, she also said that she saw me on my last visit there,and she was happy to see again and she welcomed me. She continued to say ‘my name is Nana’, she also said ‘I do not like the name Nanny but it was given to me because I was to look after their children’ she said ‘please tell people my name and whoever you tell this, they will believe you’. It was to be a couple of years after that I went to see a doctor in preparation for my trip to Nigeria, who happened to be Ghanaian. I ended up telling him what I had seen in Jamaica and before I could tell him that she said her name was Nana, he blurted it out before me and said ‘of course she was from Ghana, and that would have been her name’……..
According to Wikipedia Nanny was born in 1686 in Ghana, western Africa and was brought to Jamaica as a slave (she told me she came as an indentured servant). She and her brothers Accompong, cudjoe, Johnny and Quao ran away from their plantation. They said Nanny was married but she had no children. Both her and her brothers held several slave rebellions in Jamaica and it was said that she was such a fierce warrior that the British had to beg for peace. They also said Nanny was a great Obeah woman who knew many charms and spells and she used this to assist her to defeat the British. In 1739 the British governor in Jamaica signed a treaty with the maroons promising them 2500 acres in two different locations. They were to remain in their 5 main towns; Accompong, Trelawny, Mountain Top, Scots hall, Nanny Town. The government of Jamaica declared Nanny a national heroine in 1976.
The maroons are very important to our Jamaican history because it shows the resilience of our people and our fighting spirit that came with us all the way through the middle passage, all the way from Africa. Knowing that we were born as free people, possibly Kings and Queens from whence we came, the fight to keep our individual spirits alive becomes even more important. While other slaves who came through the same middle passage and were deployed in other countries accepted their fate, those in Jamaica did not. Although we are loved by many, there are those who criticize us because we are natural warriors but this has been with us since and before we were captured and taken from our home land. The maroons rebelled against colonialism, against enslavement, against discrimination and against racism. They preferred death over slavery and they used every inch of the fighting spirit that God gave to them to release themselves out of bondage. Because the maroons came from Africa and were used to the chaotic mountains, ridges, ravines and crevices which was the geographical structure of Jamaica it was easier for them to flee. The white men could not endure those rigid areas and so defeat was imminent for them.
The maroons were ferocious hunters and until today they are remarkable people. It is so strange because they all know each other when they see each other and I was told it was because of the eyes….Beenie Man, Jamaica’s one most loved and one of the best Jamaican entertainers ever, is maroon (I was Told) – and if you ever see one of his performances you will know that his ancestors walks with him strongly… watch his energy. You can find the maroons in St. Mary, St. Elizabeth, Trelawny and the upper hills of St. Andrew. They are very spiritual people, tradition is important to them, and they work closely with nature. The maroons have their own unique code that they use to communicate with each other, this was done using an instrument known as the Abeng (an African word meaning ‘conch shell’) The ones used by the maroons however, looks more like a cow’s horn and is still used today in the maroon communities of Jamaica. This instrument greatly assisted them during the rebellion and prevented their recapture by the slave masters. The Maroons, One of Jamaica’s Pride!!
Out of Many One People…..Jamaicas Moto
Obara Meji is a spiritualist, Ifa-Orisa practitioner, and teacher of metaphysics. Since 2011 she has used her online platform to share her personal experiences to those seeking answers about spirituality. Her teachings will expand into short stories, novels, and public speaking to continue her mission of bringing enlightenment to the world.